That’s a wrap: Kentucky 104, LIU-Brooklyn 75

Putting a wrap on UK’s 104-75 win over LIU-Brooklyn.

What it means: Kentucky improved to 4-1 overall with its third straight win, all at home. John Calipari got what he wanted out of the three-game home stand with relatively easy wins over Lafayette and LIU-Brooklyn, sandwiched around a tough, physical game against Morehead State on Wednesday night.

What I liked: It was hard not to like Kentucky’s offensive performance. The Cats averaged 1.406 points per possession, their best figure in that category since posting a 1.434 at South Carolina last season. (UK had a 1.405 against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament last year.) The Cats scored 55 points in the first half and 104 on the night, the second time in three games the team has passed the 100-point mark. Last year’s team, that national championship team, reached 100 points twice all season.

The Cats shot 67.7 percent for the night, including making seven of 13 three-pointers. Better yet, UK had 28 assists. Archie Goodwin led the way with nine assists, part of what was very nearly a triple-double night. Goodwin also had 22 points and nine rebounds. Julius Mays had six assists. But big men Nerlens Noel and Kyle Wiltjer each had five assists.

What I didn’t like: Kentucky’s defense in the first half was suspect at best. As is its style, LIU pushed the pace and was shooting nearly 60 percent until a dry spell at the end of the half. The Blackbirds ended up shooting 49.9 percent the first half, followed by 33.3 the second.

John Calipari benched Wiltjer to start the second half, going with Jarrod Polson instead. The coach said he felt like the smaller lineup was working better, especially defensively. After all, LIU was beating UK down the floor in transition the first half. The Blackbirds had eight fast-break points in the first half, just two in the second.

What’s next: Kentucky gets six days off before traveling to South Bend to play Notre Dame in the SEC/Big East Challenge on Thursday night. It will be UK’s first trip to the Joyce Center since Billy Gillispie’s final game as Kentucky coach back in 2009. Of course, by next Thursday Notre Dame will know if its football team will be in the BCS national championship game. That could pump up the basketball Irish.

Click here for the H-L photo gallery of tonight’s game.

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